As A Decision on CAFE Standards Looms, Leading New York Officials Stand in Opposition

As A Decision on CAFE Standards Looms, Leading New York Officials Stand in Opposition

The Trump Administration is revisiting Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, with plans to weaken minimum average fuel efficiency standards for car manufacturers over the next several years. Prior to the Trump Administration, the Obama-Era requirements for U.S. car and light truck fleets to achieve an average of 54.5 MPG by 2025. The Trump Administration is arguing that would be too expensive and too difficult to achieve.

Enacted by Congress in 1975, CAFE standards have made automobiles in America more efficient year after year. By improving the average fuel economy of an automobile maker’s entire fleet, our nation’s energy security is improved, consumer’s money is saved at the pump, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

The comment period on the proposed changes, which closed last week, drew opposition from carmakers, consumer advocates, environmental groups, and tens of thousands of concerned citizens. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose comments carry significant weight given the holdings of the sizable pension funds they control, wrote a letter with other major institutional investors to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt arguing that CAFE standards “strengthen the U.S. economy, enhance the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry, provide the regulatory certainty needed to spur innovation, reduce both our dependence on oil and climate risk, save businesses and consumers money, and create jobs.”

Similarly, Mayor de Blasio, previewing his administration’s comments to the EPA, said: “NYC has shown that ambitious CAFE standards work. For Washington to rollback these standards shows a disregard for what cities can and should achieve to help combat climate change. We all have a responsibility to do our part. Washington should be looking to increase the standards, not do away with them. “

In fact, New York City has proven that a 54.5 MPG average for car and light truck fleets by 2025 is in neither too expensive nor difficult to achieve. NYC’s vehicles purchased in 2017 average 83.7 MPG, thus showing that if the largest municipal area in the United States can achieve such a high number years ahead of the goal, any fleet of municipal vehicles anywhere can as well.

In fact, as a result of the Trump Administration’s plan to lighten emissions standards, New York State, California, Vermont, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have sued the Administration due to the severity of this decision. In June 2017, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 12 other attorneys general vowed to take legal action to block rolling back vehicle emissions requirements. So far, several have followed suit, but to ensure that GHG emissions are decreasing year after year, more States and attorneys general need to step up and take action against such a threat to the environment.